FRANCIS Rossi's estranged daughter Bernadette only saw the Status Quo rocker once in 17 long years.

But now the 23-year-old says she's feels a part of his family again.

The pair had virtually lost contact after the guitarist left Bernadette's mum when she was a toddler.

Now father and daughter have bonded over a shared love of music and Bernadette will soon head out on the road as support act on Quo's forthcoming UK tour.

Speaking from her home in Ontario, Canada, where she has lived since she was three years old, the young singer who fronts her own band, Bernadette and The North, told how Rossi suddenly got back in touch three years ago.

Since then she has visited her British family and got to know, and like, the dad she barely met.

They found a lot to talk about, particularly music, and Francis has even produced an album for her.

She says that meeting him was surprisingly easy.

Not only did they feel comfortable in each other's company but they quickly discovered they had a lot in common.

"It's kind of funny when you don't know someone, didn't grow up with them and yet you find you have all these similarities.

"It's the little things, like we both talk really quickly and I do this thing where I click my fingers all the time and he does too.

"Sometimes it's almost like looking in a mirror."

Bernadette describes her dad as "an easy going guy".

She has no problem with the fact that for years he ignored her. She admits that his well documented drug-taking past probably didn't help.

"I'm sure that not having contact was down to that part of his personality," she says.

However she is blasé about the wild stories of drug abuse and groupies, saying simply: "It's always happened in rock and roll. I'm certainly not shocked by his past - he's very open about it."

She stresses that the father she knows bears little resemblance to the wild coke-snorting, tequila-swilling libertine of tabloid legend.

"He's not like that now. It's like there are two different people."

For Bernadette, whose band usually plays the coffee house circuit in Canada, performing before thousands of people each night on a 26-date Status Quo tour is a daunting prospect.

"I've never done that many dates before and I'm sure some of the fans will think the only reason I've got the gig is because I'm Francis' daughter.

"Still, I figure not everyone can like me so I'm just going to concentrate on those that do.

"I'm going to do my best and if they like what they hear then all well and good.

"If they don't, I'll just treat it as a learning curve.

"Whatever happens it'll be a great experience.

"It's not the kind of opportunity I'm going to turn down."

The tour, which zig-zags the UK before finally ending up at the Bournemouth International Centre on December 21, will also give her a chance to see the country of her birth.

"I don't really know England at all. I know how to get to London and I know where Tesco is and that's about it."

She also has little experience of Quo live.

"I've only ever seen one gig and that was when I was 12," she admits.

I tell her the awful truth. That it means playing to huge numbers of elderly men playing air guitar and waving their non-existent hair in the air.

Bernadette laughs. Like she says, it'll be an experience.

Status Quo start their winter tour next week and play their final concert at the BIC on December 21.